Definition of porcupine in English:



  • A large rodent with defensive spines or quills on the body and tail.

    • ‘The ermine's diet consists primarily of mice, but they also prey upon cottontails, small hares, porcupines, squirrels, pikas, and rats.’
    • ‘These ‘resistance’ characters include such obvious traits as the quills on a porcupine or the puffing of a puffer fish.’
    • ‘Other South American rodents include guinea pigs, chinchillas, and New World porcupines (one species of which has dispersed into North America).’
    • ‘Most birdwatchers come to see the rare brown-necked parrots that frequent the area, but there's also a hide where you can see porcupines and bushbuck.’
    • ‘Other animals photographed included elephants, sun bears, porcupines, clouded leopards, wild dogs, and panthers.’
    • ‘TWO little boys giggle as they play hide and seek among hundreds of filthy cages packed tight with civet cats, dogs, porcupines and squirrels.’
    • ‘They have to contend with elephants, hippos, bushpigs, porcupines, vervet monkeys, baboons and birds which are after their crops.’
    • ‘The Erethizontidae is a family of rodents commonly known as the New World porcupines.’
    • ‘Burrows which have been abandoned may be used for shelter by bats, ground squirrels, hares, cats, civets, hyenas, jackals, porcupines, monitor lizards, owls and warthogs.’
    • ‘Eight other species, including pacas, pacaranas, spiny rats and porcupines, also steal Brazil nuts stored by agoutis.’
    • ‘Molluscs, barnacles, mussels, oysters, tortoises, hedgehogs, armadillos, porcupines, rhinos all grow their own.’
    • ‘Despite the fact that they burrow underground like moles, and have big front teeth like rats have, naked mole-rats are more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs than to moles or rats.’
    • ‘They also sometimes roost in the burrows of other mammals such as hedgehogs, porcupines, and aardvarks.’
    • ‘The rodent also seems to be an ancestor of the hystricognaths, a group of rodents that is spread across the globe and includes porcupines, African mole rats, guinea pigs, and chinchillas.’
    • ‘Hedgehogs, porcupines, and some Old World salamanders sport protective spines.’
    • ‘Like elephants, hippos and bushpigs, porcupines are nocturnal crop raiders.’
    • ‘As is the case with North American porcupines, the quills are loosely attached but can't be thrown or otherwise projected.’
    • ‘Is it closest to the mole rats, or porcupines, or even chinchillas?’
    • ‘Whole lions at £5,000 a head, antelopes, porcupines, goats, cane rats and large, live snails - all from West Africa - were also candidates for the dinner table.’
    • ‘The quills are so lightly fixed to the porcupine's body that they are easily detached and left imbedded in the attacker.’


Late Middle English: from Old French porc espin, from Provençal porc espi(n), from Latin porcus pig + spina thorn.